After a 17-month investigation, police have broken up a $50,000-a-month marijuana ring believed to have imported 15 pounds of marijuana each month from Virginia to northern Baltimore County.
Police in Virginia and Pennsylvania helped Baltimore County police in the investigation.
One of the alleged ringleaders is a member of the Widener family of Sparks, which has had a long history of convictions.
Nellie Widener, 75, of the 15000 block of York Road in Sparks, was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, , police said. A son, named by police as a leader of the ring, and her grandson also have been arrested.
Fifteen of the 19 people indicted as part of the ring have been caught, police said.
Four people remain at large and one planned to surrender today, police said. Four people alleged to be part of the ring were arrested earlier this year.
At 6 p.m. yesterday, county police began arresting those charged in a grand jury indictment for marijuana distribution in northern Baltimore County.
Investigators believe James Roger "Babe" Widener, 46, of Stewartstown, Pa., a son of Nellie Widener, and Robert Wayne "Bobby" Six, 34, of White Hall, headed the ring.
"Babe and Bobby Six were bringing about 15 pounds of marijuana from [Spotsylvania County] Virginia into the area and that was being distributed to their people who were dealers," said E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman.
Miller said marijuana has a street value of $200 an ounce or $3,200 a pound.
"It's certainly a large operation concentrated in the northern county," Miller said, adding that the arrests "have made a major impact on marijuana distribution and use in that area."
Babe Widener and Diana Lynn Elk, 25, who lives with him, were arrested April 10 by Pennsylvania State Police and charged with two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and one count of criminal conspiracy. They are free on $75,000 bond, police said.
Brian Scott Foster, 43, and his wife, Dawn Renee Foster, 32, of Parkton, were arrested in March on possession of marijuana charges. They are free on their own recognizance, police said.
Most of those arrested last night were taken into custody at their homes or jobs, Miller said.
Jerry Leon Weeks, 33, of White Hall; Timothy Earl Main, 31, of bTC White Hall; Robert Erwin Stegman, 31, of Sparks; Dale Allen Sheppard, 37, of White Hall; Steven Wayne Widener, 26, Nellie Widener's grandson, of Freeland; his wife, Kathryn Widener, 30; Gail Ruth Six, 33, of White Hall; James Taylor Quinn, 46, of White Hall; Toni Ann Evans, 26, of Harford County; Joseph Pinkney Walker, 40, of White Hall; and Charles Kenneth Walker, 42, of White Hall.
They were processed at the Towson District Court last night, police said.
Arresred today were Hamilton Police were searching for Hamilton Brooks Durkee, 23, of White Hall; Gary Holas Murray Jr., 22, of White Hall; Bobby Beamon Eddings, 23, of Parkton; Neil Andrew Weinberger, 25, of Sparks; Lelona Maria McGinnity, 26, of Stephens City, Va.; and Anthony Koyce, 55, address unknown.
All 19 were indicted on charges of conspiracy and/or possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
The investigation into the ring began in April 1990 and crossed state lines. Virginia and Pennsylvania state police departments, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office and Shrewsbury, Pa., police participated.
Tipsters led to the seizures of 14 pounds of marijuana, 58 firearms and $3,500 March 15. The seizures were carried out in 11 homes in Baltimore and Harford counties and York County, Pa., police said.
Many others in Nellie Widener, family have been in trouble with the law.
Her son, Ernest Wayne Widener, was arrested at age 22 in April 1980 in Howard County on charges of possession and distribution of hundreds of "upper" and "downer" pills, valued at about $6,000. In 1975, Nellie Widener was convicted of trying to smuggle hashish in a shampoo bottle to Ernest, who was in the Baltimore County Jail.
In April 1975, Ernest Widener and Timothy Widener, then 20, were indicted on arson charges.
Timothy Widener was then serving a five-year sentence for burglary and Ernest Widener was appealing a six-month jail sentence on a destruction of property conviction.
In 1984, Ernest was sentenced to 18 years for theft.
Her son, Freddie, was sentenced in June to 22 years in federal prison for robbing a credit union office.